Over the past few months I've had the repeated experience of watching someone I know redefine themselves. People redefine themselves for many reasons. In these instances, the person in question had reached the end of a period of personal growth and found that the career or the relationship or the gender or nym or the deep love of maple bacon donuts that had once defined them no longer fit. A gap grew between who they were and who they appeared to be. I call this gap existential lag.
I have never met anyone self-aware enough to avoid existential lag. As far as I can tell, it's a universal human experience to have a delay between change and seeing change, and in each case, the person in question had to acknowledge the gap and ask the people they knew to treat them differently. Most did so with the cool grace you would expect from an adult acknowledging a fact of life.
Me? I suck at dealing with existential lag.
It doesn't matter if the difference between my inside and outside is big or small, the thought of having to initiate a conversation that implies, "I'm not who you think I am," makes me break out in hives.
To make matters worse, My favorite response to fear (and negative emotions in general) is dissociation. After thirty years of practice my denial skills border on miraculous. (In my defense, this sometimes comes in handy. The ability once to deny that my knee had dislocated while I was crossing in front of the T is probably one of the reasons I'm alive today.) Unfortunately, denial can't tell the difference between a life and death situation and a difficult conversation. Even more unfortunately, unlike passing trains, existential lag doesn't go away if you ignore it. In fact, the longer I ignore it, the worse it gets. So, eventually, I can't deal with it anymore, and I'm forced to accept what is happening.
At this point, usually, I've spent so much time and effort on denial, I'm ashamed, so I take all of the energy that I had been using to deny reality to myself and focus all that energy on denying it to everyone else.
Those who know me well know that my ability to stick with a bad idea until the bitter end is legendary. And believe me, trying to explain emotional distance to people who care about you is a lot harder than just coming out and saying that you don't like ketchup on scrambled eggs. Fortunately for me, the people close to me are a lot better at seeing through my shit than I am. I can't tell you how many times I have worked myself into a migraine over something I thought was a secret only to have my partner respond with:
Living with someone as unflappable as Professor Snape has done wonders for my ability to deal with things like an adult. At least, with people I'm close to. On the Internet, though, things are different. There are times when posting anything more significant than pictures of coffee mugs and waterfalls feels a little bit too much to me like holding a press conference, so it's all too easy to let the important things lag.
And lag...and lag...
I'm working on it, but I still find it hard, which is why it has taken me ten paragraphs to say something what probably could have fit in a couple of tweets:
A few years ago, I developed an interest in Evolutionary Astrology (video) as a tool for modeling character development in fiction. Since then my interest has slowly developed to the point that I'm starting this (video) in November and am considering becoming a professional evolutionary astrologer. I also have a thing for space. If you don't like stars, now might be a good time to unfollow me on social media.
And for those who missed my mumbling and awkward posts about it elsewhere: I'm queer and I have a really short hair cut (especially on one side) and there are some blue streaks in it.
* Three time regional winner of Most Pretentious Title of the Year Award.